JOURNEY IN BEING
Anil MITRA, © COPYRIGHT 2013
JOURNEY IN BEING
The aim of this document is to illuminate some guiding principles of and uncovered in the process of ‘Journey in Being’. Some of the principles are central and crucial, some are peripheral, some just after-thoughts; some are necessary, some suggestive; and some are well known while others are not.
None of the duals is intended to suggest substance—this is the meaning of the term ‘neutral’ in the title of this document. One power of these duals lies in their neutrality and therefore in their integration.
The duals appear in light blue in both sections.
The contents of this section are links to the elaborations of the next section, Exposition.
The obvious is foundation for the non-obvious. The obvious is not the trivial but in seeking the significant-obvious we are bound to experience occasional triviality. A problem for the drive to instant cleverness.
The obvious is important (1) because there is a sense in which knowledge is—at least in part—reduction of the not obvious to the obvious, and (2) what is obvious when stated or conceived is not always obvious before statement.
How to select the ideas, how to define them, how to string ideas together to produce something new—that is not obvious. However, when it has been done what appeared to be new and unexpected becomes obvious and familiar.
This is one way to view these lessons.
Two ‘commitments’ have stunted metaphysics as knowledge of ‘things as they are’. (1) Commitment to substance since early Greek thought—the world is matter or it is ideas or process and so on. (2) More recently, commitment to science—as a model for kind of knowledge, how knowledge is arrived at, what the universe is and what it contains.
This is why ‘Being’ is important—it is supremely neutral in my use of the term: something is an example of Being or has Being if (and only if) it exists.
Neutrality entails neutrality to neutrality. I.e., there is a time for commitment… and a time to be neutral.
The application of an idea to itself is an example of ‘reflexivity’. It generalizes to cross application of ideas—horizontally among disciplines and vertically between method and knowledge.
Though it is not an aspect of formal method, reflexivity is powerful.
Without mind we would be mechanical. Without bodies and matter there would be no ‘real’ change or accomplishment.
Ideas and action are the modes of change. Action completes the idea: ideas are incomplete without action. Without the idea, however, change is mere mechanical process.
Change is conceived in ideas which provide continuity, acted on which through risk affords finite change.
Immersion in tradition is foundation for discovery. Discovery requires independence, seeking the beyond.
These assertions have a degree of the obvious. There is variation within the generality.
For its understanding of the material world, secularism appeals to science and educated common sense.
Religion (often) posits but does not show a world or realm beyond the material. Science reveals a part of the universe. There is a brand of ‘positivism’ which holds that there is nothing outside what is revealed in science. Though this is not the explicit secular view it is often the default or tacit view of many who are committed or just default secularists.
However, what is revealed by science is not known by science (or common sense) to be the entire universe. Science is silent on the outside. Science allows that that outside may be ‘pretty much more of the same’ or that there may be ‘universes of unknown extent and nature’ outside what it has so far revealed.
Since religion ‘posits but does not show’ the standard world views of today cannot be regarded—by any criteria including their own—as having exhausted the contents of the universe. The standard views have gaps that may be immense.
Thus the modern world views allow a metaphysics that (a) does not contradict those views (in their domains of validity) and is (b) internally consistent (consistency with facts is part of item a).
The metaphysics of this account is just such a metaphysics. This metaphysics is demonstrated. It universal in that its object is the universe; and it is shown to be unique.
This unique metaphysics will be called the universal metaphysics.
Being is that which exists—the quality of existence… at the level of generality at which we now speak the distinctions of ‘thing’, ‘quality’, ‘process’ are immaterial.
Experience—as conceived here—is subjective awareness. Though—at least seemingly—not all Being, it is the theatre of our being and (the place of) our acquaintance with Being.
Experience is so fundamental that its existence needs no proof in terms of something else.
Concept and Object are essential to meaning. To refer, a concept must have some semblance to the object.
A concept is any mental content (this conception of concept is distinct from the higher concept: higher concepts and percepts are both concepts-in-this-sense).
Meaning is made of a concept and the object to which it refers (concepts and objects may be compound and distributed). There are concepts that do not seem to refer—e.g., pure experience. There is still meaning—the reference is empty. There are many words that do not seem to refer—e.g., ‘and’. However, there may be reference at a deeper level and so referential meaning is not as narrow as it has been claimed to be. This is why this paragraph begins with ‘Meaning’ rather than ‘Referential meaning’. In any case, the interest here in referential meaning (which may of course be used in understanding non-referential meaning).
The reference of the term ‘unicorn’ is contingently empty; the reference of ‘square circle’ is necessarily empty (in a space with sufficient structure). However, the terms are not meaningless.
In order to refer the concept must have iconic content. Without some trace of icon, no reference is possible.
These thoughts are crucial in understanding the nature of meaning, in clarifying the meanings of significant concepts, and in resolving many paradoxes that have origin in confusions regarding the nature of meaning such as conflation of concept (word) and object (which, however, is most convenient in day to day use).
A sign must have some iconic form. However, if its iconic form has no significance to its use it then has no iconic content: it may be called a ‘pure’ sign; otherwise the sign may be called iconic.
A pure sign cannot refer. Reference is always in virtue of some iconic content. When pure signs are arranged, the arrangement may have iconic content. When iconic signs are arranged, the arrangement may have iconic content over and above the iconic content of the signs taken individually.
An example of a fact: The sun is overhead.
An example of a pattern: The motions of particles of the cosmos are in agreement with the laws of physics.
However, the statement regarding the pattern is a fact; and fact is an abstract from a pattern.
Only if there are atomic facts are there facts that harbor no pattern.
The distinction between fact and pattern is one of appearance and convention (later we see that there are no atomic facts).
A Law is a pattern: under it some patterns or patterns of behavior occur while others do not.
Facts and Laws are not essentially distinct.
The hypothetical-universal and real-but-local are two interpretations of Law. Each has validity. Later, we see that the real stands while the universal fails in a limitless universe which is shown to be the case.
The theories of physics, e.g. Newtonian mechanics and universal gravitation or its replacement by Einstein’s relativistic theory of gravitation, are often regarded as hypothetical. However, they are factual over some domain (some domain of facts). The claim regarding factuality is not affected by imprecision for the theories may be regarded as being precise within certain limits rather than perfectly precise.
What, then, is crux of the assertion that the theories are hypothetical? They are hypothetical if they are regarded as potentially applying to the entire universe.
There are therefore two ways of looking at theories of ‘the universe’. They are universal but hypothetical or real (factual) but local.
There are practical and idealistic reasons to prefer the ‘hypothetical-universal’ view.
However, the universal metaphysics will show that the hypothesis view is untenable. It forces the factual-real view. This could be a deflation of our expectations of science. However, it makes the accomplishments of science no less remarkable and it does not tarnish their integrity or beauty. It replaces their universalism with a new kind of ever-in-process universalism that reveals the universe as ever open to discovery and realization (for limited forms of Being).
The Void and the Universe are duals in the development of the ultimate metaphysics (knowledge of things as they are) below. The sources of their conceptual power are (1) their conception in terms of Being (2) their extreme duality: All Being and absence of Being.
The Universe is All Being.
If something does not have Being it is not in the Universe. What does that mean? It means that if I have a concept of something, e.g. a unicorn, that has no reference then there are no such things in the Universe. This seems very trivial but is immensely important.
Therefore: the Universe is All Being and only Being.
In this definition ‘is’ is used in a sense in which ‘is All Being’ means ‘is All Being over all time and space’. More precisely, since we do not know that space and time extends to the entire universe or is pertinent to all modes of Being, ‘is All Being’ means ‘is All Being over all—coordinates of—difference’.
Since the Universe is All Being there is nothing outside it. This will be crucial. If we had said the Universe is all matter and radiation or all things sensible we could not assert that there is nothing outside it. If by creation we mean formed by and external creator, the Universe has and can have no creator or creation. If there is a God, he or she or it is not and cannot be the creator of the Universe. Is there a God? The standard views so prejudice us with regard to the concept of ‘God’ that the question loses relevance. From meaning, there is a dual question: ‘What do we mean by the term God; and does the term have any reference.’ The dual question implies a dual mode of investigation. Can we answer it? The standard views provide no answer. The universal metaphysics does provide answers but also suggests that the power of the Universe is a more important notion than the received notions of God.
The Laws are facts; they are in the Universe; they have Being.
The Void is the absence of Being.
However, the Void is in the Universe. The Void has Being even though it contains no Being. This is analogous to the empty set which has no elements but is a set.
The Void contains no Laws.
If from the Void there is any state that cannot emerge, that would be a Law of the Void; that would contradict the fat that the Void contains no Laws.
Therefore the Void has no limits.
(This means that every conceivable state emerges from the Void. This statement will requires clarification which is given below.)
The Universe has no Limits.
This demonstrated assertion will be called the fundamental principle of metaphysics.
Doubt and certainty are duals. Certainty is an occasion for doubt; doubt fosters what certainty there may be. Absolute certainty in matters of significance is not attained; this is as much an occasion for freedom as it is of constraint.
That the Void is in the Universe may be doubted. However, the assertion that the Void is in the Universe is not absurd.
That the Universe has no Limits may appear to violate science and common experience. However, it does not. The Universe must have some form and therefore not some other form. This apparent limit is logical and it is therefore not a limit: the occasion for logic is that we may conceive contradictions (and perhaps other exceptions to principles of logic); logic is therefore a requirement on our conceptions that gives them the possibility of referring; it is a necessary constraint on ideas that they have the form of truthfulness; it is not a limit on the world.
The rationale for doubt is that that is the way to certainty. If we did not care about certainty (in some measure) we would not care about doubt. However, there are situations in the most certain of our endeavors—logic and mathematics—where we tolerate uncertainty because of the return.
The fundamental principle has been subjected to intense scrutiny—yet I have not been able to remove all doubt; however, no contradiction has been found; the principle has been given demonstration; and it has immense return; therefore we tolerate uncertainty; this is not unique to the fundamental principle; it is an essential part of all our significant endeavors.
Metaphysics must lie within logic. The boundary of the metaphysics of the narrative is logic. From the limitless ness of the Universe, this leads to a new conception of logic—hence the capitalized form ‘Logic’.
According to a naïve interpretation of the principle, any referential concept must be realized for if it was not that would be a limit to the Universe.
However a contradiction such as an apple that is simultaneously all white and all not-white is not realized. This logical constraint on concepts, however, is, as seen above, not a limit on the Universe.
Thus one constraint to ‘realistic’ concepts is that of logic. Now, the logical systems of today are immensely impressive but nonetheless not perfect or complete. Where do they come from? We receive them and we forge them. What we received was not revealed by some God or absolute and must have therefore been forged (even if not consciously). The forging, however, is not empirical in the way that science is. It must be some kind of semi-explicit trial and error on our use of language in particular and concepts in general. In other words logic is empirical but not in the way that science is: the subject matter of the empiric of science is the world; the subject matter of the empiric of logic (logics) is the world of language (but since language and concepts are in the world—we would not be able to assert this on a substance account—logic and science are not as different as might be thought). In any case, the logics are imperfect (except in simple cases) and empirical. How then can logic be a realistic constraint? We define Logic as the constraint on concepts and their relations (to concepts) for realism. Though tacit, this definition is perfect (more will be said on it).
Our referential concepts can violate experience—science—another constraint. Thus the two constraints so far are conceptual and empirical realism. What is the nature of the empirical realism? We have seen that science has interpretation as fact and, further, fact lies under percept that ‘agrees with the world’. However, percepts are forms of concept and we never escape concepts; therefore, science is a species of consistency among concepts—as is Logic as defined above. Science and Logic—empirical and ‘conceptual’ realism—can be absorbed to Logic:
Logic is (the constraint on our concepts for) realism.
There is no further constraint.
The variety and extent (coordinate of difference) of the Universe is subject—in our understanding—only to Logic; objectively, the Universe has no limit; however, the ‘subjective’ form is immensely powerful.
Wittgenstein found logic and metaphysics to be equivalent: metaphysics reduces to logic. Here—the reverse: logic expands to Logic which is (the ultimate) metaphysics (of the narrative).
How shall we treat of the doubt noted earlier? As is in the nature of our Being in the world; as humankind does even at the core of its most certain yet not certain endeavors; as is necessary for maximal living: we admit those uncertainties that are not absurdities and that most enrich our world even in terms of our highest criteria of rigor: we admit an existential side to Logic; we name it so; it is an essential part of our condition even though we do not always recognize or admit it.
The Universe has no limits. Therefore, there is limitless form that is and knows the Universe in an instant; this is what Thomas Aquinas labeled ‘Aeternitas’.
In limited form, however, such realization of the ultimate is given—by the fundamental principle—but must, while form is limited, remain in endless process.
From the fundamental principle (which may be abbreviated to FP), the Universe has identity. This Identity—and the Being of the Universe—must go through acute, diffuse, and non-manifest phases. There must be some continuity across the non-manifest (non-linear time is not a violation of Logic; this non-linearity may be simple or perhaps of complexity without limit).
The Universe is ultimate power.
The power and identity are conferred on the individual (otherwise the Universe would have a limit).
This repeats what is said above.
It is noteworthy that while in limited form, realization is endless and of limitless extent and variety. Freshness never runs dry. It is a journey in being.
The (universal) metaphysics is explicitly ultimate in depth—it neither has nor needs foundation in terms of further depth or substance; and, in implicitly capturing the limitlessness of the Universe the metaphysics is implicitly ultimate in breadth.
The variety of forms is without limit. There is no limit to the variety of ‘physical’ laws and cosmological systems. There is no fiction except violation of Logic. Write the Bible so as to eliminate all Logical contradiction; the result is realized somewhere. Incremental realization, as in the theories of evolution, is far more—perhaps infinitely more—likely. The religious cosmologies are fragile at best.
Every element of Being interacts with every part. The Universe of our conception is one but is now seen as naturally and dynamically one. There is one Universe; it contains all things: material things, thoughts, and values: either these things exist or they do not: if they do they are in the Universe: if not they are nowhere and no-thing, no-process, have no existence in space or time or beyond space and time (if there is such a ‘place’).
Thus the metaphysics is ultimate with regard to breadth: (1) the Universe is shown to be ultimate in breadth (2) the metaphysics implicitly captures this breadth.
Sameness and difference lie at the root of identity and of extension and duration. The duality of sameness and difference suggests that there are no coordinates of difference other than extension and duration (quality is a property of interaction). This needs to be thought out.
Discussed above. See the document Journey in Being.html for details.
Discussed. The discussion may be extended via the concept of identity. See the link above.
The moment harbors eternity (since the Void is part of every moment).
Discussed. See above link.
All states are equivalent—‘equal’; an ultimate in unification theory.
What is civilization? It is the connection, continuity, and perpetuity and Being of groups over time and space.
And Civilization is the matrix of civilizations across the Universe. A given civilization or individual may fail ultimate realization; Civilization realizes. But: from continuity of identity: all individuals and civilizations realize.
Look back at the process leading up to the fundamental principle.
The Being of Being is given where we may doubt the Being (existence) of matter. What made this possible? It is the neutrality of the notion of Being. There is experience! What is it? It is at our core. When I doubt experience I am having what I name experience. There is no reference to particular experience but only to experience itself. Again—neutrality. Therefore, however, there is experience; i.e., there is Being; therefore there is All Being—the Universe; therefore the Void; therefore the fundamental principle; and, consequently in neutral abstraction from science and logic there are empirical and conceptual realism that constitute Logic (and necessarily which has an existential side).
We see the method of the development arising with the content. But now note: the method includes the swathe of ‘methods’ of our civilizations. And the coeval origin of method and content is natural: method is content when the object is not the ‘material’ world but knowledge or concept.
The importance of analysis of meaning has been seen. The process of science and of this metaphysics may be seen as synthesis of meaning—incorporation experience to meaning.
The method and processes of knowledge are analysis and synthesis of meaning.
How is the metaphysics possible where metaphysical systems of the past are regarded as failed, without meaning and where even science has no purchase (so far and as so far understood)?
It is in the careful selection of concepts that are beyond the distortion of experience. Even though we do not get outside experience it does not follow from the fact that there may be incomplete and distorted representation that all representation is so.
This is occasion for a problem of the experts. In micro-analysis meaning does not or tends to not transcend its contingent limits because the atomic analyses tend to not condition one another as they should in the discovery of new contexts.
This is not a problem only of expertise. It is a widespread belief that a definition or dictionary rendering of a term exhausts its meaning and possibilities of meaning.
The process involves projection of ideas; then looking for confirmation-criticism…
An aspect of introjection-projection… and the way to understanding the world and other people.
The metaphysics frames the pragmatic. The pragmatic is good enough for its purpose. We need no more than ‘as good as it gets’.
This is an alternative expression of realization as endless process and of the untenability of the universal-hypothetical interpretation of scientific theories.
There can be no statistics of the Universe (there are statistics in it).
Detailed versus statistical description.
My thought on the few and the many is incomplete (a suggestion for reflection). What is the material side of the question of the few and the many?
Also a political issue.
An essence of our Being is that we have normal (not ultimate) limits and freedom. The determinists exaggerate the limits; the liberal free will thinkers exaggerate freedom and its ease of expression; both camps are blind to the struggle to know and live out freedom as a process.
Cognition and emotion are without realism unless in interaction—this statement has an obvious superficial meaning but, in fact, reflects depth and core. There is no cognition without feeling or feeling without cognition; they are varieties of experience that give binding to and freedom from the environment and society.
Held to be different. Aspects of the same thing. A simple representation: perception is bound conception of the environment; conception (higher) is free formulation of understanding of the environment (and because of this freedom, especially subject to empirical and logical correction). Base emotion is bound perception of self (body). Higher emotion has elements of freedom-creation (one source of art).
In fact cognition and emotion are bound. In every moment of thought feeling connects conceiving to the world; without the feeling connection, cognition becomes ‘autistic’. Thought conditions emotion (within limits, over time).
Modes of experience. Analytic philosophers think that attitude and action are different spheres of the mental.
Science and Yoga stand here as symbols for the instrumental and the essential, respectively. At core, they are not distinct.
Civilization has disciplines and endeavors that provide limited methods for limited areas of thought and action.
Even the disciplines and endeavors develop and there is some method to this.
At the highest level there is method, no final expert. We are all in process; those who proclaim expertise do so in the comfort of civilized containment. When they universalize their claims there are various reasons—the comfort, false ego, power, influence, profit—but above all it is deception.
The universal metaphysics shows some directions in which knowledge is final, other directions in which it is ever open.
In so far as there are ways, ‘Science’ may be a term for the instrumental—what is used or deployed, ‘Yoga’ for the being side—what the individual or civilization is. Science and Yoga are not distinct.
The ways of Yoga are, in analogy to those of knowledge, analysis and synthesis of Being.
This includes analysis and synthesis of meaning which provides continuity.
Analysis and synthesis of Being is exemplified by risk with one’s Being; some of its traditional instances are the extremes of meditation, Tantra, and shamanism. These, however, are examples; the way is any action that shakes the foundation of self and its separateness and permanence and which are the ground of risk and finite transformation.
From the ever in-process nature of the becoming of limited forms there may be ‘teachers’ but there are no masters—experts—of becoming. The aura of the master is catalytic but, when it is insistent on master-hood, its ends are limited.
Ideas and action emphasize realization of individual Being.
It is crucial to understand the present use of ‘civilization’ and ‘Civilization’. See Journey in Being.html for discussion.
A generality—the traditions of India celebrate the forest sage; in the West the city is the place of development of knowledge.
Another generality—correspondingly, perhaps, India is concerned with Being, the West with instruments.
Society and nature have a dual role in my journey of discovery and becoming.